GIRLS TENNIS: Roughriders sweep Central, but have been challenged this season
As Grand Forks Red River rolled to a 9-0 win over Grand Forks Central on Thursday afternoon, it looked like the usual dominant Roughrider team that hasn't lost in more than a decade.
As Grand Forks Red River rolled to a 9-0 win over Grand Forks Central on Thursday afternoon, it looked like the usual dominant Roughrider team that hasn’t lost in more than a decade.
But that’s not really the case, coach Greg LaDouceur says.
The Roughriders, whose last loss came in the 2001 state championship against Bismarck Century, are vulnerable this season and need to play their best to keep the streak alive with the postseason looming.
“In years past, we’ve been very fortunate to be really solid all the way down the lineup,” LaDouceur said. “We are solid all the way this year, too. We have some very good players. But we just don’t have that intensity level and that killer instinct that you sometimes need and it worries me.
“We’re not very consistent. We do not keep the ball in play enough. Part of that is their focus. I don’t know if they understand what’s at stake. I don’t see that focus out of this group. It’s a great group of girls. They are a talented group. But they need to be more focused and consistent and keep the ball in play.”
Red River survived a scare last week against Fargo Davies, rallying from down 4-1 to win 5-4 thanks to a three-set victory by Madelyn Johnson.
“We were very fortunate to win that one,” LaDouceur said. “If it wasn’t for Maddie Johnson, I’m sure we would have made the news.”
On Thursday, the Roughriders displayed some of the skill and talent that LaDouceur referenced, blanking rival Central with nine straight-set victories in Choice Health and Fitness.
It moved Red River to 8-0 on the season. The Roughriders close the regular season Friday in West Fargo.
Red River used a number of players in the lineup. Only seniors Cindy Lim and Alexis Caoili played both singles in doubles, teaming up to win at No. 3 doubles. Lim won at No. 1 singles, while Caoili won at No. 3.
Central dropped to 0-9 and will have to compete in a play-in dual Monday.
“I’ve seen great strides with Sam Krogfoss, Sophie Welsh, Kacy Jiran and Katie Stauss,” Central coach Max Weisser said. “They are all seventh, eighth or ninth-graders. They just haven’t played enough tennis. They really got a lot of enjoyment out of this season. They are going to be playing more and more and that’s only going to help our program.
“We do have a bright future. Of our top seven, six of them are sophomores or younger. The future's looking bright. The biggest thing is that they just need experience. I felt like they dealt with losing really well this year. No one got too down on themselves. It’s been an enjoyable year because of that.”
Red River, meanwhile, is hoping to extend its winning streak to 14 full seasons. But unlike past seasons, there’s no guarantee.
“It’s not a lock,” LaDouceur said. “It’s not. I hope the girls realize that. I’ll remind them. I don’t tell them it’s going to be easy. It’s a wide open region in my honest opinion.”